Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Layer-by-layer deposition of nanoparticles to form filtration membrane

Technology #m11-093

Membranes for water filtration, reverse osmosis (RO) desalination, and water purification can be formed using this technology’s layer-by-layer deposition process to create thin film nanocomposite (TFN) membranes. Silica nanoparticles are deposited onto an organic micro- or ultra-filtration (MF/UF) membrane. The thickness can be carefully controlled through this process, and therefore be easily tuned for each specific type of filtration.

Membrane for water filtration, reverse osmosis desalination, and other nanofiltration applications

Effective, practical methods for water filtration, purification, and desalination are increasingly important to a growing global population. Furthermore, access to clean drinking water is not universal. Nanofiltration methods can remove impurities ranging from organic matter to salts and provide a valuable resource for clean drinking water.

This technology’s deposition process for thin film nanocomposite membranes can be easily adjusted to control the thickness of the membrane surface and improve durability. Placing the inorganic silica nanoparticles atop an organic support layer combines the mechanical and functional benefits of inorganic materials with the low cost and ease of organic membrane fabrication.

Lead Inventor:

Christopher Durning, Ph.D.


  • Membrane for water purification and filtration
  • Water softening and filtration of “hardness ions”
  • Reverse osmosis desalination
  • Natural organic matter (NOM) removal


  • Layer-by-layer approach can control thickness and other membrane properties
  • Technique can be easily modified to create membranes for different applications

Patent information:

Patent Pending (WO/2012/151197)

Licensing Status:

Available for licensing and sponsored research support

Tech Ventures Reference: IR M11-093

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